Fire in the Blood

“Fire in the blood” is a documentary by Dylan Mohan Gray that takes a closer look at the Aids epidemic in Africa and the role pharmaceutical companies played in signing the death sentence of millions of people in the name of profit and patent protection rights.

If this continues, more than 30 million people will face a slow, painful and excruciating death because of Aids.

By the time I left the movie theatre, I had lava running through my veins and perhaps a little fume coming out of my ears – I had fire in my blood and I’ll tell you why.

“Where are the drugs? The drugs are where the disease is not.    

Where are the diseases? The diseases are where the drugs are not” 

Did you know that the US charges $15,000 for Aids treatment in the US when the generic form (basically the same drug but without the brand name) is available for $350 in India? If that is true, then why isn’t everyone getting treated in Africa with the Generic drug? You would think that with help of non-profit organizations and the public, that it would be possible to raise the funds to provide people in Africa with the necessary medication. 

Right? Not so much. And why is that? PATENT.

A Patent is a property right for an invention granted by a government to the inventor. A United States patent gives inventors the right “to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling their invention throughout the United States or importing their invention into the United States” for a limited time (20 years)

Big pharmaceutical companies are doing everything they can to stop the Generic form of the drug from existing in developing countries. They are standing in the way of progress because they are more concerned with Shareholder value rather than with Human life

You can argue that it is their right. They are a company just like any other company and they exist to make profitHell, you can also argue that the prices are defined by the open market – It is not in their hands. With that logic, they are allowed to sell their drugs to Africa at the same price as back home. You can also play the ‘quality’ card and allege that generic drugs are inferior to the real product. That’s funny, considering the fact that most of these companies get their drugs branded in Indian Labs! 

If the basic cost of production were equal to that amount, maybe I could understand. But these drugs cost as little as $350 to produce. In addition, only 1% of the profits made by the big giants come from Africa. Providing a whole continent with generic drugs wouldn’t even touch the sales of drugs sold by the pharmaceutical companies! So why are they fighting against the use of generic drugs? 

The Domino effect. If third world countries are able to provide treatment to their people at better price than in the US, then everyone is going to start buying the generic form. Why would people in the US accept to pay $15,000 when the basic cost to produce the drugs sums up to $350?!!! 

The combined profit of eight of the biggest pharmaceutical companies listed on the Forbes Fortune 500 equals the combined profit of all the other companies present on that list!

These companies are behaving as if they can never make an exception. However, when three people died of the Anthrax attack in the US in 2001, they dropped their patent rights (for a limited period) in order to provide the general public access to the cure. And, when three million people died because of the Aids epidemic in Africa that same year, they held on tight to their trade provisions. 

Am I hallucinating or are we facing a really big issue here?! There needs to be a change. We cannot continue living in a world where masses of people are rotting in the name of “profit” for a few – This is genocideFrom a financial perspective, we cannot accept such a huge price mark-up. And on a humanitarian note, we cannot allow people to die of an epidemic when we can actually provide them with the cure at an affordable price. Especially when people who have Aids can get cured and see progress only two weeks after starting the treatment. 

To learn more, please visit http://fireintheblood.com/

On another note, this is the second documentary I’ve seen this year that deals with this topic. If you are interested in this subject, you should also watch “How to make money selling drugs”, a documentary that forces you to rethink the drug policies in the US.


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